The Figaro: Everyone Knew Her As ‘Nancy’

The New York Times: “The tiny Nissan Figaro has an almost cartoonish design that is guaranteed to stand out. To an American living in Britain, who regularly spots pristine Figaros, it would appear to be a highly popular model that was made recently. Every part of that guess is wrong: The Figaro is rather old, built for the 1991 model year, and there never were large numbers anywhere. Nissan never even exported it from Japan.”

“Britain never had dominant carmakers like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Instead, for generations, it had a profusion of small-to-medium manufacturers. Those carmakers produced a much wider array of designs than their American counterparts, a good number of them quirky, small, underpowered, none too practical — and beloved by their many admirers … An increasingly competitive and global market had less room for eccentric cars, British or not, or for models that sell only a few thousand.”

“Owners join Figaro clubs and Facebook groups, give their cars names, often buy more than one per family, and sometimes pay over 10,000 pounds, or $12,500 — more than the car cost new … It has an unusual ‘fixed profile’ convertible roof — the middle folds down, but the sides stay put … Nissan built the Figaro in pale shades of aqua, green, gray and taupe … More than 3,000 of the cars are registered as being in active use in Britain, but numbers are no longer rising, and the pipeline has slowed to a trickle. ‘There’s only so many, and they’ve been around awhile,’ said Peter Pattemore, who drives a Figaro (named Jimmy), as does his wife, Sandra (hers is Sally). ‘But we’re going to keep them as long we can’.”

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Amazon ‘Surprises’ Members with Samples

Axios: “Amazon is quietly piloting a program to let brands like Maybelline and Folgers pay to send free samples to consumers — all based on what the retail giant already knows they’re likely to buy. Turning free samples into new targeted ads plays to Amazon’s strength as a trusted delivery service of everyday goods, something Americans already expect from the company … The tech giant has the purchasing data and logistics infrastructure to offer samples of actual products, which could be more effective than display ads on Facebook or search ads on Google for certain kinds of consumer packaged goods brands.”

“Amazon has more than 100 million subscribers to its Prime services alone, meaning it has established long-term relationships with users. Millions more purchase goods regularly from the company, even without a Prime subscription … Samples of new products are sent to customers selected using machine learning based on Amazon’s data about consumer habits, according to recent job postings and details listed on its site.”

“There could be privacy concerns. Customers are getting items that Amazon’s vast trove of customer data predicts they’ll want to buy. But that some customers could feel violated when something they haven’t ordered shows up unexpectedly on their doorstep … Amazon tells consumers that it ‘surprises select customers with samples that we think will be delightful and helpful,’ sent to their account’s default address.”

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Books & Brews: A Community on Tap

The New York Times: “The first thing one notices about Books & Brews is that it’s off the beaten path, tucked into an unassuming strip mall in a cluster of industrial-supply stores and a sprawling outpost of The Home Depot near 96th Street on the far north side of Indianapolis. The second thing you may notice upon entering the shop is how inviting it feels, with its bright, bookshelf-lined walls, clusters of sturdy wooden tables and racks of board games — and that’s before you get to the back of the store with a craft-beer taproom, small stage and even more packed bookshelves.”

Founder Jason Wuerfel comments: “The fundamental flaw of the bookstore is that it’s designed to be quiet and not let people connect to each other. When you encourage people to walk around, and you have books and board games and music that breathes life into spaces, you naturally provide the framework for social engagement.”

The books for sale all around the store are mostly used, taken by donation and sold for $3 each … Ten percent of used-book sales are given to Indy Reads, an area organization that promotes literacy … As for the brews, the company has its own line of craft beers, sporting playful names like Shogun Soba Ale and Charlie and the Chocolate Stout … The Books & Brews mother ship is not alone anymore. Wuerfel expanded and franchised the business over the past few years to eight other locations (so far) around central Indiana and now partners with Flat12 Bierwerks to produce his beer.”

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